CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Toyota fast facts

<pre> MICHIGAN 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA Toyota Pre-Race Fast Facts Date: July 23, 2000 Broadcast: 1:30-5 p.m. ABC Race Length: 250 Laps 500 miles Track Length: 2-mile ...

<pre> MICHIGAN 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA Toyota Pre-Race Fast Facts

Date: July 23, 2000 Broadcast: 1:30-5 p.m. ABC Race Length: 250 Laps 500 miles Track Length: 2-mile oval 1999 Winner: Tony Kaanan Toyota's Best Finish: 8th, Max Papis, 1997 Toyota's Best Qualifying: 5th, Scott Pruett, 1999 Track Speed Records: Qualifying: 1996, Jimmy Vasser, 234.665 mph Race: 1990, Al Unser Jr., 189.727 mph

Manufacturer Points: Ford 178; Honda 153; Toyota 145; Mercedes Benz 44

</pre> What to look for at Michigan:

SURGING DA MATTA - On the strength of three consecutive top-five finishes, Cristiano da Matta has moved into seventh place in the FedEx Championship Series point standings. Da Matta earned his first podium finish with a third at Cleveland and then led the first 73 laps of his Champ Car career at Toronto on his way to a fourth. In addition, he placed fifth at Portland. For the season, da Matta has five top-10 finishes.

MR. MICHIGAN? - With three poles, a win and four top-10 finishes since 1996, no man has had more success recently at Michigan International Speedway than Jimmy Vasser. The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver holds the track record with a 234.665 mph qualifying lap in 1996. In addition, Vasser has earned three of the last five poles including the top spot a year ago. Overall, Vasser's qualified fourth or better in each of the past five races held at the Brooklyn, Mich., racetrack.

Vasser's success hasn't been limited to qualifying, as he won the U.S. 500 at MIS in 1996 along with the $1 million prize. He also earned the $1 million first prize for winning the 500-mile race at Michigan's sister track in Fontana in 1998. Vasser has produced a first, a second, a seventh and a two ninths at MIS since 1996.

GIDLEY TO DRIVE FOR DPM AT MICHIGAN - Former Toyota Atlantic ace Memo Gidley will take over the driving duties in the DirecTV Toyota for Della Penna Motorsports this weekend. Gidley will temporarily replace Norberto Fontana due to Fontana's lack of testing experience on superspeedways. Earlier this season, Gidley stepped in for an injured Patrick Carpentier and registered an eighth place finish at Rio among his three starts.

TOYOTA BRINGS IN HIGH-SPEED STREAK - A Toyota has qualified on the pole at each of the last two CART races that recorded pole speeds in excess of 200 mph. Last October, Scott Pruett registered the fastest qualifying lap run in CART since 1997 when he captured the pole at Fontana with a speed in excess of 235 mph. The effort was the second-fastest pole speed in CART history. Earlier this season, Juan Montoya captured the pole at Motegi with a lap of 212.540 mph. Montoya went on to lead 172 of the first 175 laps before a pit error dropped him to an eventual seventh-place finish.

MORE QUALIFYING - When Cristiano da Matta earned his first Champ Car front-row starting position at Toronto, it marked the eighth time in 10 races that a Toyota-powered car started on the front row. In addition, da Matta became the third different Toyota driver to register a top-two starting spot this year.

OVAL SUCCESS - Toyota has dominated the oval portion of the schedule this season, leading 483 of 909 oval laps (53.1 percent). In the five oval races to date in 2000, Toyota has one victory (Montoya at Milwaukee), a second, and four fourths. Juan Montoya has dominated qualifying to an even greater extent, Montoya has won three pole positions (Nazareth, Motegi and Milwaukee) and qualified second twice in the five oval races. In those races, Montoya has been passed for position on track only once this season (Nazareth).

LEADING THE WAY - In addition to leading 483 oval laps this season, Toyota extended its series-high total for laps led to 620 (out of a possible 1,399) when Cristiano da Matta led the first 72 laps at Toronto. Overall, Toyota-powered Champ Cars have led 44.3 percent of the laps run.

FIRST-TIMER AT MICHIGAN? - With Cristiano da Matta and Oriol Servia consistently running in the top 10 in FedEx Championship Series competition, Michigan may be a natural for a first Champ Car victory. A first-time winner has found his way to victory circle three times since 1992 at MIS. Scott Goodyear (1992), Scott Pruett (1995) and Tony Kanaan (1999) all registered their first Champ Car wins on the two-mile superspeedway. Overall, six drivers earned their first CART wins at Michigan since 1979, including Emerson Fittipaldi in 1985.

MICHIGAN MANUFACTURER'S FORUM - The Manufacturer's Forum at this weekend's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota will feature the program supervisors for each of the engine manufacturers. Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports and TRD president and CEO, will represent Toyota.

Quotes:

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "Michigan and Fontana are the ultimate tests for a Champ Car engine. It's as fast as we'll go all year with speeds in excess of 230 miles per hour, and it's the longest race of the year at 500 miles. We've had some great success on the ovals this season, and Michigan will push us even further. It's a true test of man and machine."

Cristiano da Matta, #97 Pioneer Electronics/MCI Toyota: "When you put yourself consistently up front in the top five or six, everything starts to happen your way and you are going to win. I am looking forward to the second half of the season because we have come so far the past few weeks. We know we have a good road course car, but after very good test at Chicago we're looking forward to the next two races on the ovals, as well."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Scott Pruett , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing